By Glenn Dean
Copyright 2011, 2012 by Glenn Dean. All Rights Reserved.
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Cover photo: M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. US Army Photo.
In 2010 the Army fielded new rifle ammunition to its soldiers in Afghanistan. Developed as part of a program to produce lead-free ammunition, this new rifle bullet produced a storm of outrage from the firearms community, who derided the new ammunition as needless “green wash” at a time when troops were dying in combat. This is the story of what really happened: how what started as a program to be more environmentally friendly became a significant upgrade in military small arms capability.
A recent public demonstration of the Army’s new 5.56mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR), which began fielding to units overseas in mid-2010, has put some performance data out in open sources that finally enables this tale to be told. The development of EPR was not exactly a secret, but was done under a closely-controlled information campaign – so much so that even a year after the ammunition has been fielded the “cover story” for the development still causes a great deal of confusion. Since some time has now passed since the ammunition was fielded, it is time to shed a little more light on the subject of the program that eventually became the M855A1.